Recruit guilty in Edgewood carjacking

February 24, 2007|By Justin Fenton | Justin Fenton,Sun reporter

Thomas Head had just stepped out of his car in the parking lot of an Edgewood gas station in July when the suspicious man he had been eyeing hopped into the driver's seat and began to drive off.

The man, a private-in-training at Aberdeen Proving Ground facing an overseas deployment, thought he had made off with a new sport utility vehicle and was on his way out of Maryland. But Head knew something more valuable was inside the vehicle: his 5-year-old son, who was in the back seat.

In a split-second decision caught on the gas station's surveillance camera, Head, 31, darted back to the car. Climbing onto the vehicle's footboard and clutching the roof rack as the man sped off, he screamed that his son was inside and grabbed the steering wheel, crashing the vehicle into a utility pole.

Yesterday, a Harford County jury found Brandon Lee Taylor, 19, guilty of all charges stemming from the incident. He could receive a maximum penalty of 100 years.

During the trial, Taylor's public defender did not dispute that the incident occurred. But he told jurors that Taylor did not intend to kidnap the child or assault Head.

Jurors deliberated for more than three hours before returning the guilty verdict. A sentencing date has not been set.

Head said he was relieved that the trial was resolved. The single father of three suffered severe damage to his right leg that could take a long time to heal, however.

Head's leg nearly had to be amputated, and he walks with a cane. He has little feeling in his foot and has been unable to work at his job as an electrician at Morgan State University.

"I feel better that the court part is over with," Head said after the verdict was read. "I can't wait for the injuries to heal so I can get back to my regular life."

He also said his son, Nishawan, doesn't like to drive past the Edgewood Shell Mart where the incident took place.

Taylor, an Oregon resident, was charged with first- and second-degree assault, carjacking, kidnapping, theft and robbery, and did not testify during the trial.

Prosecutors played a tape of Taylor describing the incident to police, saying that he wanted to get out of Maryland. He told police he didn't know a child was in the car.

After drinking at a strip club from afternoon into evening, Taylor decided he had had enough of the military, Deputy State's Attorney Diana A. Brooks told jurors in her closing argument yesterday.

"Going AWOL is what he was doing," the prosecutor said. "He decided that going to the Middle East didn't look so appealing."

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